Editor’s note: Teacher Appreciation Week starts today, and we’re honored to have the recently-named 2018 National Teacher of the Year, Mandy Manning, as our guest author. We’re enormously grateful for the hard work that teachers like Mandy do everyday to ignite curiosity in the next generation. Stay tuned here and follow along on Twitter throughout the week to see how we’re celebrating.
Becoming a teacher wasn’t part of my original plan. I went to school to become a screenwriter and producer, but after my first job working at a local TV news station, I realized it didn’t quite fit my personality. I needed to have a different kind of impact.
That’s when I found a job as a paraeducator (teaching assistant), then taught for two years in the Peace Corps. But it wasn’t until I moved to the tiny town of Spearman, Texas—where I taught theater and communications and coached speech and debate—that I seriously considered pursuing a career in teaching. From the first moment I stood in front of a classroom of nervous but curious teenagers, I was hooked. Looking at their faces, so full of hope and potential, I knew I’d found my purpose.
Nineteen years ago, I could never have imagined being named National Teacher of the Year. Now, in this position, I’m humbled by the opportunity to raise the experiences of educators, and share my students’ voices.
National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning poses with her students on graduation day.
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has run the National Teacher of the Year program since 1952. Google helps sponsor this program, and as part of their partnership, they hosted my 54 fellow State Teachers of the Year and me at their Mountain View headquarters this past February. The experience was inspiring and validating, reinforcing how educators across our nation are putting students at the center of their work, and how much direct impact we can have on our communities.
Here are the 55 of us (2018 State Teachers of the Year) enjoying our time with Google in February.
In one session, we had the honor of collaborating on this year's Doodle celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week, which is live on Google homepage in the U.S. today. It was powerful because it gave each of us the chance to talk about what it means to be a teacher, and to bring those concepts together into a single image. We were especially lucky to have help from Jonathan Juravich, Ohio’s 2018 State Teacher of the Year, who is a talented artist and art teacher (learn more about his experience as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Doodle).
We also had the chance to share thoughts and ideas across a range of topics, including the teachers who inspired us, the future of education, and advice for aspiring educators, which are now part of a new video series called “Lessons from Teachers of the Year.” Starting today, these videos will be available on YouTube and I hope they serve as a source of inspiration for educators.
Other influential individuals in education—like Sal Khan, Charles Best, and Angela Duckworth—answered some of Google’s most-asked questions about education and shared their thoughts on the profession of teaching. Their words of gratitude show the impact that teachers have on their students and the broader community. Check out these videos and trending education-related queries on a Google Trends hub dedicated to Teacher Appreciation Week.
Over the years, Google has listened to and supported educators through its products, programs and investments, and this week Google.org is providing $500,000 to DonorsChoose.org to match donations to classroom project requests. Google has been working with DonorsChoose.org since 2012, providing more than $20 million to fund over 23,000 projects, reaching one out of every ten public schools in the U.S.
Every day I’m thankful my path led me toward teaching. I look forward to my year ahead as National Teacher of the Year and the opportunity to elevate my colleagues and students’ stories. In the most turbulent of times—and especially in those times—the importance of a good teacher cannot and should not be taken for granted. This week, give a shout out to the teachers who have made a difference in your life. You can even try coding a note of thanks with Made with Code!
So make sure to #ThankATeacher today—they deserve it.